We often want to win so badly that we will do anything to get victory.
My kids were playing a game recently. I don’t remember what it was. It could have been monopoly or gin rummy. Those seem to be the current faves. One of my kids was pulling some sketchy moves to get a win. And they won!
But really, if you think about it. They didn’t get the win. They lost respect. They lost trust. They lost honor. They lost reputation.
It’s the funniest thing to see someone celebrate a win they got unfairly, at another’s expense. They know they did it. And yet they throw their fist up in the air and proclaim their great victory parading their newfound status as number one. Everyone who played them knows the truth and yet this person still claims victor! They might have the most real estate. Their stack of cash might be bigger than anyone else’s on the board. They might have been the one to say “gin” first, yet everyone knows what they did to get there.
I tried explaining why winning and going about it in all the wrong ways actually ends up making you a loser. As we came to this conclusion, I finished my mom speech with this:
If you play without integrity, people won’t respect your win.
Think about that statement. Because in everything we do, if we play without integrity, no one will respect our “win.” If we carry out shady business practices, no one will respect our high profit margin. If we step on people to climb the ladder, no one will respect the high rung we acquired. If we win the account, but lie to get it, what kind of victory is that? If we get our way in a decision, but power trip to make it happen, is our power the kind that people actually respect?
You can “win” all day long. You can win accounts, You can win lawsuits, You can win games. You can win clients. You can win converts. You can win friends. You can win grades. You can win sex. You can win money. You can win toys. You can win status. But do you really win if you get these things by means that lack integrity?
In the same way that a kid who cheats in Monopoly knows they didn’t actually win, you know too. And that feeling eats away at you. It would be better to have tried and lost, than to have faked a win.
Proverbs 10:9 says Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out.
My kids and I just recently memorized this. Why? Because it’s a big deal. Security comes from knowing you played with integrity. And this kind of security is like anti anxiety medication for the soul. It cushions any blow. You can sleep well at night knowing whatever game you have played, you played it with integrity. You will be less anxious because you aren’t waiting to be found out. You can be in relationship with man knowing you have played well with others. You can walk with your head held high that win or loss, you did what was right.
And as God so warns us, if we take crooked paths we will be found out. I can’t think of anything that could create more anxiety and war within my own spirit and my relationship with others. The fear of being found out is no way to live. In fact, God warns us that our lack of integrity is a house of cards that will come crashing down as soon as the wind gets word. If this is striking a chord in you right now, perhaps the best thing you can do is come clean with your “games” and own up to your crooked play. It will be then that God will give you the security you long for. And then and only then that you will experience true victory.
As my kids and I play games, we find ourselves a part of a bigger game. And in that game, there will always be opportunities to play unfairly for the win OR play our best with integrity and accept any outcome. You know though, that you have won, when you are “walking securely”.
Play life with integrity. That is the win.